FROM THE MORGUE
Copyright 2007 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
July 2, 1881
Insane asylum abuses are doubtless as old as insane asylums. Indeed, it is safe to assume that long before they existed the original lunatic received the worst of treatment at the hands of sane men and women whom his imbecilities annoyed. In a barbaric age, when the coarseness of all social conditions brutalized the most refined of humanity, such offenses as are now being unearthed by the investigation of the Indiana State Lunatic Asylum would have been shameful; now, they are blood-curdling in their enormous infamy.
It is not Indiana alone that lunatics are strait-jacketed and shackled to walls and floors; it is peculiar to no State that male patients are maltreated, and female victims shockingly abused by the very people employed to give the tenderest care to them. These enormities exist throughout the continent; from Canada, where we find a subject for illustration in this issue, to the Gulf of Mexico. Whenever, in the usual periodical attack of conscientiousness, any of our State governments bestir themselves to discover how their insane are coming on, the result is revelations of such horror as to chill the stoutest heart.
But the heart grows warm again, and after the indignation has been virtuously vented in print and resolutions the matter is dropped and the old order of things resumes its sway. A keeper or two has been discharged, and thanks to his valuable experience, been promptly employed by another asylum which has not been investigated. Now and then, but very rarely, a higher official gets into trouble. As a rule, the wretched lunatic's most piteous condition only provokes a spasm of sentimental sympathy which does him no good. We can recall no case in which he was removed from the torments he had been condemned to endure by the very affliction which should have ensured him absolute freedom from all artificial pain.
The time has come for a full and searching investigation of every institution to whose care the mentally deficient in this country are committed. Civilization and humanity demand it through the mouths of many enlightened men and women, and it should be initiated at once and pressed until no evil has escaped unearthing and no reform been left unperfected. It is the duty of every honest man and woman in the land to demand this. The victims of the mad-house ghouls are, by the title of their helplessness, the wards of the nation, and it is the nation's place to protect them, unless it legalizes the summary ending of existences which have ceased to be useful, and saves their termination by slow torture.